As managed service providers (MSPs), our intention is to help our customers be fully managed in a manner that aligns with their business process and helps them to be successful. Part of that is about understanding a business is made up of people, not just process. As a result, we’ve seen significant gains in the popularity of “per user” pricing—where services are bundled together and charged by the user rather than by the device.
However, despite this shift in mindset, our approach to the tools we use to do our jobs has not changed along with it. Our management tools still focus on devices, tickets, emails, or networks… but not people. Faced with that, how can an MSP find all of the systems “Jane” uses? How can we support “John” when we can’t necessarily see John within our systems?
This lost concept of “the human” is what brings us to the concept of human- or user-centric management. If our management systems could represent humans rather than systems, we would have the ability to more efficiently help those humans.
Imagine opening your management system and seeing a profile of the user, Jane. Jane uses several devices, interacts with several more cloud systems, has a collection of data, and may have multiple identities and access credentials. Instead of seeing Jane as a single icon, she can be expanded into a collection of devices and systems she uses—and even linked to other users.
This focus on users first would make help desk interactions much more efficient. When Jane calls the help desk, rather than starting to search for a device or service and then extrapolating from there, the technician could start with Jane. From there, he could then see the status of all the systems she is connected to. Jane’s profile could even display the other issues she has previously seen—maybe Jane is a “frequent flyer” with certain types of problems. Having access to all this information allows the technician to provide a more tailored and personal service to the user.
This is a distinct change in thinking to previous help desk interfaces. The approach is clearly evolutionary—15 years ago, a single device was likely a very good proxy for a user, as most users only had one device. Today, that is no longer the case. To accommodate this change, our interfaces need to evolve to match the new complexity of work environments. Each user is now a combination of multiple systems, services, and connectivity.
By shifting to a user-centric management system, MSPs will be able to link systems and configurations to users much more quickly, deliver superior services, and access their customers’ systems with ease. User-centric management will become a standard and an expectation as it is delivered to customers. MSPs should be demanding this level of ease-of-use from their tools providers, and will gain significantly in productivity by doing so.
Dave Sobel is Senior Director of Community and Field Marketing at SolarWinds MSP. You can follow Dave on Twitter® at @djdaveet
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